African-American sculptor Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller lived and worked in Framingham, Mass. for most of her life. She studied in Paris with Rodin as a very young woman, and married late, to the Liberian psychiatrist Solomon Fuller. Fuller’s tiny studio, once in the attic of her family home, is reconstructed now as part of the Danforth Museum’s move and restoration. Fuller’s husband did not approve of his wife having a career apart from marriage and motherhood; but Fuller, persistent and driven to represent her heritage as a proud and historically significant one, eventually built a separate studio with a small inheritance of her own. The Fuller Room shows the Danforth’s entire collection, including molds, armatures, bas-reliefs, and small, unfinished work, and is inspiring.
Argentinian sculptor Nora Valdez is showing drawing and sculpture at the Maynard, Mass. public library now through the end of May. Valdez creates poignant images about immigration, diaspora, and the experience of dislocation and communication.
Now at MIT’s List Center in Cambridge are powerful installations by women sculptors, Kapwani Kiwanga and Kathleen Ryan. Kiwanga’s installation, “Safe Passage,” creates an experience of the power dynamics inherent in an unfamiliar environment. Sculpted searchlights and walls of slatted two-way mirrors form a disorienting pathway leading to a gallery displaying pages of a Green Book, on which are addresses of safe houses
In “Cultivator,” Kathleen Ryan uses mighty industrial spare parts in combination with delicate natural forms—floral-ish pods of wire and beads hung from giant iron petals, and dense tiles of abalone shell carefully placed in the interior of salvaged ship parts. Draped on the floor are polished bowling balls that form two enormous bracelets—one black, one white—gems for a giantess. Through April 21. (at top, gallery view of “Cultivator.”)
In time for Earth Day…
Plastic Entanglements at the Smith College Museum of Art brings together sixty works by thirty contemporary artists. Plastic has infiltrated global ecosystems, and living beings: birds, reptiles and mammals, and humans. A wide array of work in many media, beautiful and thought-provoking, is in the museum through July 28th. A series of talks and workshops highlight plastic’s ecological ramifications.
Plastic Entanglements unfolds in three sections, charting a timeline—past, present, and future—of our ongoing engagement with this ubiquitous manmade material.
Pictured: Aurora Robson: Ona, 2014, plastic debris, aluminum rivets
At the Hess Gallery at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, artist and ecological activist Nedret Andre shows paintings celebrating the life of eelgrass ecosystems in “Seagrass: Ecological Engineers” up through May 30th. For hours check the Annenberg Library hours; the gallery is on the library’s first floor.
Below: Nedret Andre: In Water, 2017, oil on canvas
“Could a nude woman artist be both image and image-maker?” – Carolee Schneemann
To say that Carolee Schneemann, who passed away last month, was a legendary painter, photographer, and performance artist is to miss the point, almost, of her six-decade-long body of work. I mean that phrase literally, since Schneemann used her body to stage intricate and taboo feminist dramas in a way no one else has ever done. Schneeman explored desire, sex, oppression, and—yes—joy, in ways that were confrontational, sometimes brutal, and almost always ephemeral. It is difficult to explain her work without having seen it, and it is doubly difficult when, as Maggie Nelson says in her excellent article in the New Yorker:
“…I also can’t help feeling that to consistently deem someone an underrated living legend is also to practice a certain repetitive distortion, whereby all praise or estimation begins to register more as corrective than insight. Similarly complicated, when it comes to Carolee’s work, is the question of suppression and censorship.”
Read more about this fascinating artist, and, if you can, see her work.
Photo of the artist from the author’s postcard of “Carolee Schneemann: Up To And Including Her Limits,” 1997, at the New Museum; a still from the film “Meat Joy.”
Take a look at Nedret Andre’s paintings, which occasionally become three-dimensional, now at the Hess Gallery at Pine Manor College:
Hess Gallery / Nedret Andre
Nedret’s ecological activism and artwork speak volumes about what dedicated individuals can do to heal the planet.
Full disclosure: I’m the Hess Gallery director.
Ella Buchanan‘s iconic early feminist sculpture, “The Suffragist Trying to Arouse Her Sisters,” may or may not have been lost to time, but this request is just in from a reader. Does anyone know where the original might be?
“Ella was the first librarian at the Pittsburg (no h), Kansas, Public Library before leaving to attend the Art Instititute in Chicago. If anyone should happen to know what happened to the original sculpture, we would love to have that information in time for the 2020 anniversary of women getting the vote.”
More information about the library and its quest.
My favorite show of the year so far is now up at the BCA’s Mills Gallery
. Curated by filmmaker Maya Erdelyi, the show features 13 artists who make entirely handmade animated films, using every imaginable media including cutouts, cut paper sculpture, pencil drawings on vellum, and inking directly on film. The show is exuberant, refreshingly handmade, and by turns tender, hilarious, horrifying, and stunning. Panel discussions still to come, check out the full list of activities and register here
. The show is up until April 28th.
Top right: Ma Femme Maison installation and animation by Maya Erdelyi, At left: installation view of the main gallery.
Dall sheep’s eyes from Maxilla & Mandible!
The Umbrella Art Center of Concord, Mass. hosts a stunning fiber exhibit until February 28th. The newly-renovated gallery is a showcase for the work of 17 artists, including Merrill Comeau (“Red, White, Blue,” above). Merill composts, tears, and otherwise alters used fabric, treating it sometimes like paper, sometimes like clay, sometimes like a finely-tailored garment, until she achieves the degree of layering that best expresses her concept. Says Merill, “My performative tasks of seam ripping, laundering, ironing and stitching afford me opportunities for processing individual and collective trauma.” Red, White, and Blue represents a country badly in need of repair.
Janet Kawada‘s humorous miniature houses, yurt-shaped felt constructions with embedded gems, symbols, and stories, form a small village in “Piecing It Together.” Family, identity, and home appear as acts of creation that are never entirely finished.